Be Like Others

Be Like Others

Iran, 2008, 74 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Canada, UK, USA
Genre/Subjects: Discrimination, Documentary, Gay, Gender, Health / Medicine, Homophobia, Male-to-Female, Middle Eastern, Muslim / Islam, Politics, Transgender
Program: Documentary
Language: Farsi

DIRECTOR: Tanaz Eshaghian

Under Iran’s current fundamentalist rule, a homosexual may be harassed, arrested and punished with the most extreme measures possible. Yet changing your gender is not only legal, it’s perfectly acceptable under Islamic law. So, to avoid constant persecution and possible death, a high percentage of the nation’s next-generation gay population opt to willingly sign up for costly, traumatic sexual-reassignment operations. For some, these state-sanctioned surgeries are excruciating ordeals that ultimately aren’t worth the agony; for others, the medical procedure is the first step toward complete, personal liberation.
The winner of a special jury prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and a Sundance favorite, Tanaz Eshagian’s extraordinary chronicle of Iran’s transsexual community follows several patients who’ve either gone through the process or are just beginning their journey to a new life. We meet Vida, an “alpha-tranny” who’s embraced her female self and now counsels young men as they transition over; Annosh, a.k.a Anahita, who’s decision to become female confuses his mother and turns his fianceé into a commitment-phobe; and Ali Ashgar, a reclusive young man who finds that his postop reality has left him all the more alienated.
After spending time with these brave, beautiful souls who are forced by society to physically transform themselves, you’ll understand why they’re willing to risk everything in order to follow their hearts. They don’t want to be like others; they simply want to be themselves. —DAVID FEAR

co-presented by

Arab Film Festival, Queer Jihad, South West Asian and North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) and Transgender Law Center

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